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Wednesday, June 29, 2016
St. Bernard of Clairvaux: How to Fight Despair with Ss Peter and Paul as Guides
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One of the favorite tricks of the devil to stop fervent souls from advancing on the way to sanctity, or at least slow them down, is discouragement. This trick also has the wonderful advantage, from his standpoint, to be able as well, if it works, to lead these souls to despair and thus deprive them of heaven forever.

This is why Saint Bernard of Clairvaux so often addresses this subject in his sermons to his monks. For this feast of Saints Peter and Paul we send you some passages of two of his sermons for this feast which contain a consoling antidote to this particularly dangerous poison which the enemy of our souls tries to inject in them to deprive them of eternal life.

St. Bernard: Sermon I for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul

1. A glorious feast dawns upon us which splendid martyrs, the leaders of the martyrs, the princes of the Apostles, consecrated by their renowned deaths. I speak of Peter and Paul, two great lamps which God placed in the body of His Church like eyes giving a twin light. They have been given me as teachers and mediators to whom I might securely confide myself : for they have made known to me the ways of life and through them I will be able to ascend to that Mediator who came to pacify all things in heaven and on earth (…) How will I dare approach Him, I who am a sinner who has sinned exceedingly, who has sins whose number exceed that of the sand of the sea, when He cannot be purer and I cannot be more impure ? I fear lest I fall into the hands of the living God if I presume to approach Him from whom I differ as much as evil differs from good. 

That is why God gave me these men who are at the same time men and sinners and very great sinners, who thus have learned in themselves and from their own experience how they ought to be merciful towards others. For those who are guilty of great crimes will easily pardon great crimes, and in the measure that has been measured to them they will grant remission to us. Peter the Apostle sinned greatly and perhaps committed the greatest sin there ever was : and his pardon was as quick as it was easy, and in such a way that he lost nothing of the singularity of his primacy. However Paul as well, who ravaged the very entrails of the Church in a manner that was as unique as it was incomparable, is led to the faith by the voice of the Son of God Himself, and in exchange for such great evils was filled with so many goods that He became a chosen vessel to carry His name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel. He was a worthy vessel, filled with celestial victuals, from which the healthy might receive food and the infirm medicine.

2. Thus it behoved that pastors and doctors be constituted who would be gentle and powerful and nonetheless wise (…)

Sermon III “These are men of mercy” (Eccl. XLIV : 10)

1. Rightly, dear brethren, Holy Mother the Church attributes to the holy apostles the text :“But these are men of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed:: good things continue with their seed.” (Eccl. XLIV : 10-11) For they are clearly men of mercy, because they have received mercy (…) Question Paul about himself, or rather hear him declaring spontaneously : “I was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and contumelious. But I obtained the mercy of God” (I Tim 1 : 10). 

For who has not heard how much evil he did to the saints in Jerusalem ? And not only in Jerusalem, but the bridle of his frenzy drew him through all of Judea, lacerating the members of Christ on the earth. He was going around, impelled by this madness, but grace came to meet him. As he was going, breathing threats and murder against the disciples of Christ, he became a disciple of Christ, and it was shown to him how much he would have to suffer for His name. He was going around, exhaling from his whole body a fearful stench, and suddenly he was changed into a chosen vessel, so that his heart enounced this good and holy word : “Lord, what wouldst thou have me do ?” (Acts IV).(…) Thus he rightly said later : “A faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief” (I Tim 1 : 15). 

Receive then this confidence and consolation from Saint Paul, brethren, so that having been converted to the Lord, the consciousness of your past sins not excessively torment but only humble you as it did him. “I am the least of the apostles”, he says, “who am not worthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God” (I Co XV : 9). Thus may we also humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and have confidence, for we also have obtained mercy, we have been washed, we have been sanctified. And this applies to all of us, for we have all sinned and do need the glory of God (Rm III : 23).

2. But with regard to Peter I have something to bring forth which is all the more precious that it is more rare, and all the more unique that it is more sublime. For Paul sinned, but he did it ignorantly in unbelief : when Peter fell, he has his eyes open. Thus where sin abounded, grace also superabounded. It is certainly abundant, the redemption of those who sinned before they knew God, before they had experienced His mercies, before they had borne His sweet yoke and light burden, before they had received the grace of devotion and the consolations of the Holy Ghost. And all of us were such. But of those who, after their conversion, become caught up in sins and vices, ungrateful for the grace they had received, who, become tepid and carnal, turn back after having put their hand to the plough, who, after having known the way of truth go back and become manifest apostates, of these, I say, you will find very few who after these things come back to their pristine state, but rather placed in filth, they become filthier still (Apo XXII : 11). It is these that the prophet deplores, saying : “How is the gold become dim, the finest colour changed !” and “They that were fed delicately have died in the streets ; they that were brought up in scarlet have embraced the dung” (Lam. IV : 1, 5).

3. Nonetheless, if someone is in this state, let us not despair for him, but let him will to rise quickly. For the longer he remains like this, the more difficult will it be for him to change. May blessed be he who takes hold of the little ones of Babylon and dashes them against the stone : for if they grow up, they will hardly let themselves be overcome. Little sons, I say these things that you might not sin. But is someone has sinned, we have an Advocate who is before the Father who can do what we cannot do at all : only may he who has fallen not add to the evil by falling deeper, but rather may he rise, having confidence that neither will pardon be denied to him, if, nevertheless, he confess from his heart his sins. For is this Peter, of whom we speak, came back, after such a grave fall, to such an eminent sanctity, who else should ever despair, if only he wishes to come out of his sins ? 

Hear what is written: “Going out, he wept bitterly” (Mt XVI : 75). The going out is the confession of the mouth, the bitter weeping is the compunction of the heart. And note that then he first remembers the words that Jesus had said : then first penetrate his heart the words by which his weakness had been predicted, when his temerity has vanished. But woe to you who, after your fall, show yourself to be stronger than us. Why are you so hard, unto your own destruction ? Incline yourself, rather, that you might the better be raised, and don’t refuse to let what is crooked be broken so that it might better become whole. Why do you become indignant at the cock that crows ? Be indignant rather at yourself. (…) 

4. You have now heard what mercy our apostles obtained, so that no one among you might be confounded more than necessary by his past sins, full of compunction in the chamber of his conscience. What then ? perhaps you have sinned in the world, but more than Paul ? Or perhaps even in religious life, but more than Peter ? Nonetheless, repenting with their whole hearts, they not only obtained salvation, but attained sanctity ; more, they even became ministers of salvation and doctors of sanctity. You then do likewise, because it is for your sake that Scripture says that these are men of mercy because of the great mercy that they obtained. (…)

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Sunday, June 26, 2016
Make an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart this June
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O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying Thee. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to Thee, and to do all for Thy love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease Thee.

I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in Thee, O Heart of Love, I hope all from Thine infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist Thee. Imprint Thy pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget Thee or be separated from Thee.
I beseech Thee, through Thine infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Thy Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of Thy devoted servants.

Amen.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016
St. Paulinus of Nola
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Double (1955 Calendar): June 22

St. Paulinus, whose feastday we celebrate today, was born in 354 to a wealthy Roman family in Gaul.  His father was the praetorian prefer of Gaul, and as such, his status helped ensure that Paulinus received a complete education.  St. Paulinus eventually became a lawyer and then the prefer of Rome.  He married a Spanish noblewoman and lived a life of luxury.

In 390, tragedy struck in the death of Paulinus' son.  Immediately following, he retreated from his earthly affairs and was baptized by St. Delphinus in Aquitaine.  Along with his wife, he gave away all of his earthly possessions to the poor and the Church.  Together, they lived a life of penance and sought true Christian perfection.

In 393 AD, St. Paulinus was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Barcelona, who nearly forced the duty on the saint.  After his ordination, he moved to an estate near the tomb of St. Nola in Naples.  Along with his wife (as this was back before the days of obligatory priestly celebacy), they established a community of monks and continued their austere life.  He went so far as to sell all of his estates in Gaul and divide the money to the poor.  He was not lacking in charitable works - helping to build hospitals, aqueducts, and basilicas.

In 409 AD, he was elected as Bishop of Nola, serving in that holy office until his death in 431.  He was a friend of Ss Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and the others of that era.  He was also a gifted poet and the author of more than 51 letters, 32 poems, and several pieces of prose.

Collect:

O God, You promised a hundredfold reward and eternal life to those who forsake the world for Your sake. May we walk in the footsteps of Your holy bishop Paulinus, despising the things of the earth and desiring only those of heaven; who lives and rules with God the Father . . .

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
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Friday, June 10, 2016
Collegial Papacy Undermining Primacy of Pope
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Guest Article By David Martin

In the wake of all the turmoil and confusion that has plagued the papacy since Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013, a Vatican Archbishop has inadvertently shed light on the situation, saying there was already a plan in the works to expand the Petrine ministry to something new.

In a revealing speech at a May 20 book launch in Rome, Archbishop Georg Gänswein who serves as prefect of the Pontifical Household reflected on what he saw as a new development of the papacy, and offered comments on Benedict’s resignation. "Before and after his resignation, Pope Benedict has viewed his task as participation in the papal ministry," Gänswein said.

News media quoted the archbishop as saying that Benedict never abandoned the Petrine ministry, but has now "built a personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a communal ministry." Gänswein explained the reformed papacy, saying there are "not two popes but de facto an expanded ministry, with an active member and a contemplative member."

Obviously this was never Pope Benedict's idea of the papacy before his election, nor did he ever show signs of wanting to abdicate the Papal Throne. Credible reports in the past year in fact indicate that Benedict XVI was coerced into resigning, and it appears his persecutors pressured him into accepting this idea of an "expanded" papacy, which now provides him with a skillful means of smoothing over what otherwise could be a very humiliating situation when asked why he fled the cross.

The scenario was already foreshadowed in the Holy Father's inaugural speech of April 24, 2005, when he said: "Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves." Apparently not enough prayers were offered for the Holy Father, because Benedict XVI did flee for fear of the wolves.

We know from Cardinal Danneels of Brussels that he was part of a radical "mafia" reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI. Danneels, known for his support of abortion, LGBT rights, gay-marriage, and pornography said in a taped interview last September that he and several cardinals were part of this "mafia" club which bore the name of St. Gallen. He said the group was calling for drastic changes in the Church, to make it "much more modern," and that the plan all along was to have Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio [Francis] head it. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/cardinal-danneels-part-of-mafia-club-opposed-to-benedict-xvi/#ixzz4ArrcdGGE

This infamous clique which is documented in Austen Ivereigh's biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer, comprised the key members of the Vatican "gay-lobby" which held the reigns and created so much chaos at the October 2014-2015 Synods on the Family. According to some reports, lobby members threatened Pope Benedict with extortion prior to his resignation.

Benedict now denies this conspiracy, because it's too embarrassing to speak of and he feels it will scandalize the Church, but clearly there was this plan in the works to "expand" the papacy to communal dimensions. Unfortunately, Gänswein sidesteps the conspiratorial element of the plan by presenting it as Benedict's design, and this unfortunately maximizes its credibility before the Church.  

With a "two-headed" papacy established, it opens the door to a four-headed papacy, and then a collegial papacy where the enemies of the Church can collectively be "pope." What we are seeing is the plan of the Freemasons to undermine the Primacy of Peter, a thread that started at Vatican II. There is no such thing as an "expanded" or "collegial" papacy with a "synodal dimension." Such a thing has never existed in the 2000-year history of the Church, nor is there any "God of surprises" who will come along to start such a heresy.

There have been anti-popes of the past when more than one claimant contended over the Chair of Peter, yes, but there was never a mutual consensus to a collegial papacy. There can only be one human representative of the Petrine Office, because Christ has only one Vicar upon earth, not two. (Matthew 16:18)  What we have today is a "pope of surprises" who has opened the door to this ecclesial twilight zone, but if Francis be the pope, what is Benedict XVI? Consider Pope Benedict's answer.

"Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated." ... "The 'always' is also a "forever" – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this." (Pope Benedict XVI at the General Audience of February 27, 2013, on the eve of his resignation)

According to Benedict XVI, he is still pope. And whereas he assumes a "contemplative" and not "active" role in the Petrine ministry, he has not renounced his Petrine character, nor is that character diminished. He is still pope, wholly and entirely. Yet, there can only be one pope. So what is Francis? Has God through some mysterious decree deigned to momentarily sanction a two-headed pope in order to prevent the reign of an anti-pope?

In hindsight we can understand why lighting struck twice on the dome of St. Peter's Basilica just hours after Benedict XVI announced his resignation on February 10, 2013. Was God angry or what? Should the Lord be happy that His Palace on earth is being turned into a sodomite merry-go-round in the name of mercy? Benedict's resignation opened a can of toxic worms, so what can he do now to repair this?

There is one thing that Pope Benedict can do to repair for the damage. He can disclose the Third Secret of Fatima in its entirety and admit openly, as he admitted privately in summer 2000, that the Secret was never released in June 2000. According to Fr. Ingo Dollinger, who was a personal acquaintance of the late St. Padre Pio, Cardinal Ratzinger [now Benedict XVI] told him in summer 2000 that the Third Secret mentioned "a bad council and a bad Mass."

The Vatican press office now denies this, but this only testifies to the truth of the Fatima Secret that the "father of liars" would reign in the Eternal City. The Blessed Virgin herself stated in her Secret at La Salette: "Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of Antichrist." (1846)

It behooves Benedict XVI to release the Third Secret in full, for this will alert the Church Militant to what it's truly up against. It will serve as a spiritual call to arms, whereby remiss Catholics can finally take the golden calf of Vatican II by the horns, and reject without scruple the idol of change that has meddled in the Church's affairs since the late-sixties. The pope has push-button power to blow-up the conciliar idol. Let us pray that he use it.

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2016/06/04/communal-papacy-may-baby-step-toward-democracy/

Image Source: Photo (c) Matthew Plese, 2016
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Thursday, June 9, 2016
Feast of The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus (Thursday after the Sacred Heart)
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On this date we celebrate the Feast of The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, which occurs on the Thursday within the traditional Octave of the Sacred Heart.
On 9 November 1921, Pope Benedict XV instituted the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart with a Proper Mass and Office. The feast continues to be celebrated in some places and by some communities, notably by the Redemptorists who maintain it in their Proper Calendar. In instituting the feast, Pope Benedict XV wrote:  

The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.
Source: Catholicism Pure & Simple
“Your most loving Heart, O Jesus, dwells in this Sacrament burning with love for us. It is there continually performing thousands of good deeds towards us.” (St. John Eudes)

Prayer to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,/gracious companion of our exile,/I adore Thee.

Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,/lonely Heart,/humiliated Heart,/abandoned Heart,/forgotten Heart,/despised Heart,/ outraged Heart,/Heart ignored by men,/Heart which loves our own hearts;/Heart pleading for our love,/Heart so patient in waiting for us,/Heart so eager  to listen to our prayers,/Heart so anxious for our requests,/Heart, unending source of new graces,/Heart so silent, yet desiring to speak to souls,/Heart, welcome refuge of the hidden life,/Heart, teacher of the secrets of union with God,/Heart of Him Who sleeps but watches always,/Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Jesus Victim,/I desire to comfort Thee;/I unite myself to Thee;/I offer myself in union with Thee.

I regard myself as nothing in Thy Presence./I long to forget myself in order to think only of Thee,/
to be despised and forgotten for love of Thee./I have no desire to be understood or loved by anyone but Thee.

I will keep silent in order to listen to Thee,/and I will abandon myself in order to lose myself in Thee.

Grant that I may thus satisfy Thy thirst for my salvation,/Thy burning thirst for my holiness,/and that once purified I may give Thee a sincere and pure love./I am anxious not to tire Thee further with waiting:/take me, I hand myself over to Thee./I give Thee all my actions,/my mind to be enlightened,/my heart to be directed,/my will to be stabilized,/my wretchedness to be relieved,/my soul and body to be nourished by Thee.

Eucharistic Heart of my Saviour,/Whose Blood is the life of my soul,/may I myself cease to live and Thou alone live in me. Amen.

(Indulgence 500 days. Brief, February 6, 1899, Leo XIII; Sacred Penitentiary Apostolic, November 8, 1934. Today the 500 days has been replaced by a partial indulgence, which no longer has a specific  time associated with the indulgence).
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Sunday, June 5, 2016
Pilgrimage to Rome: Part VII: Final Part
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In this, the final installment highlighting my recent pilgrimage to Rome, I share some final sites: Florence Italy (so not in Rome), the Vatican Museum, and Castle de San Angelo.

Santa Maria in Portico

This church contains the body of St. John Leonardi.  Pray for us!



Castle d San Angelo

Castle d San Angelo, formerly known as Hadrian's Mausoleum, was built to house the remains of Emperor Hadrian.  The fortress was used as a safeplace during Christian times for the Pope and this is also the site of a famous apparition by St. Michael the Archangel.





Florence

While this series of posts is on my recent trip to Rome, I could not pass up the chance to take a high speed train from Rome's Termini station up to Florence.  Florence is so far the most beautiful city I have ever been to, and I would highly encourage everyone to visit this city in their lifetime.  It is truly a masterpiece. 

These photos are of the Institute of Christ the King's Church in Florence.  Photos taken on Holy Saturday:


 These photos are of the Cathedral (Duomo) as well as the Baptistry:



These photos are of the sacred objects in the Duomo's musuem, which has one of the greatest collections of religious artifacts in the world.  This is a MUST see.




A view of the ceiling in the baptistry:


The Duomo as seen from climbing up the bell tower






You can see over a hundred other photos from Florence in my Flickr album by clicking here.

The Vatican Museum

And the grand finale - the Vatican Musuem.  There is no greater museum in the world.  If I were to post all of the images that I had, I would be unable to do.  This is just a small piece of the Vatican Museum. 







You may see many more photos of the Vatican Museum by clicking here.

Conclusion

Thank you for everyone who prayed for me to have a safe and prayerful journey.  I prayed for all of you while visiting these holy sites and I look forward to again returning to this truly amazing city - the center of the Church and of the world.  Thank you immensely for your support and interest in my journey.  I hope to continue visiting more holy sites and sharing them with all of you.
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Friday, June 3, 2016
Feast of the Sacred Heart & First Friday
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Today is the First Friday of June. Because today is the first Friday of the Month, many Catholic parishes will have special Masses today for the First Friday Devotion.  But even more important, today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart.  There is a two-fold reason to honor our Lord's Sacred Heart today!
"With foresight, the divine heart of Christ merited and ordered all the favors which we have received, disposing them for each of us in particular. How our hearts would be inflamed with love for so many favors! Consider that they were destined for us by the will of the Father, to be borne in the heart of the Savior, Who earned them for us by His sufferings, above all by His passion." - St. Francis de Sales

Beginning on December 27, 1673, through 1675, Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque asking her to receive Him in Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month and to meditate on His passion from 11:00 PM to 12:00 midnight each Thursday. He also revealed to her twelve promises for all who are devoted to His Sacred Heart; he asked for a Feast of the Sacred Heart to be instituted in the liturgical calendar of the Church. Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque with twelve promises for those devoted to His Most Sacred Heart.

Promises for those devoted to the Sacred Heart:

1. "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life."
2. "I will establish peace in their homes."
3. "I will comfort them in their afflictions."
4. "I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death."
5. "I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings."
6. "Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy."
7. "Tepid souls shall grow fervent."
8. "Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection."
9. "I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored."
10. "I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts."
11. "Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out."
12. "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

Prayer of Reparation:

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore thee profoundly. I offer thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of thee the conversion of poor sinners.
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